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The first priority for our newly elected governor and all the members of the legislature will be figuring out how to deal with expected declines in state revenue without raising taxes.

Both the Democratic and Republican candidate for governor have said they do not want to raise taxes. They've also said they are interested in rolling back some of the increases that we've seen in recent years. The promises are great fodder on the campaign trail, but neither candidate has provided any details on how they would accomplish that or what they would propose cutting from the existing budget.

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Add in the fact that the comptroller said he expects revenues in the next two years to be lower than previously expected, and we have the same elements that in previous years have led to tax increases.

On Tuesday, when the results of the election roll in and we know who will be sitting in the legislature and in the governor's mansion, there will be only about two months before the 2015 General Assembly session, a session that likely is going to be dominated by budget discussions and how to make up for expected revenue shortfalls.

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We can't afford to fall into the past pattern of lawmakers reaching once again into residents' pockets for more money to feed the government. And while the candidates for governor may have devoted a lot of their campaign rhetoric at the issue of taxes and spending, the reality is that the legislature has to sign off on the budget every year and, as such, carries the responsibility of making sure that the burden doesn't fall on taxpayers.

At the same time, we can't fall into the trap that federal lawmakers succumbed to when they could not agree on legitimate cuts and, instead, we ended up with across the board cuts.

A good exercise for the incoming administration would be to examine the spending in each of the state's programs, determine the level of return that we get from that spending, identify any overlap and then make adjustments based on what is going to do the most good for the least amount of money.

We need a safety net to help families and individuals who may be struggling. But some programs may offer services that are similar to what is offered in other programs and could be eliminated or curtailed. Likewise, some programs eat up a lot of tax dollars without providing a lot of help.

There's a lot of truth to the adage that once a government program is started it just gets bigger and more expensive. Every year, departments should have to justify their programs and expenditures in a way that shows how many people are being helped and at what cost. Priorities shift, problems grow or shrink. Government should adapt to those changes and prioritize spending.

If the comptroller's predictions are accurate, the next few years are going to be difficult as revenues are off yet demand for services remains high. It will take a concerted effort of both the governor and the state legislature to navigate.

Once the results of the election are final, addressing potential revenue shortfalls should get immediate attention

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